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Nick Fouquet – The Mad Hatter

Nick Fouquet is a hat maker based out of Venice Beach, California. Nick can be found cruising Abbott Kinney with his tea, riding through the streets of Venice on his vintage BMW motorcycle, or surfing at first point Malibu throughout the week, but when he isn’t living the California dream he is hard at work in his shop making hats for the likes of some pretty famous heads.  He has learned the trade of making hats over the years and crafts them by hand in his humble workshop in Venice on Lincoln Blvd. Nick is a friend of ours and we think he embodies the Baxter spirit and way of life. If you are in need of a good hat, as every man is, stop by and have a chat with the man. You can get more information about Nick Fouquet hats on his website here.  Baxter Contributor Danny DiMauro recently visited Nick in his workshop to get the whole story. Check out the interview below.

IMG_9819-EditDanny: Alright, we’re here with Nick Fouquet of Nick Fouquet Hats in Venice. Where are you from originally, where did you grow up?

Nick: I was born in New York City and grew up in the southwest of France ‘til I was about 8. Then I moved to south Florida.IMG_9803-EditDanny: How did you end up in California?

Nick: I was living in Colorado and I was kinda done living there. I had lived in New York before and I didn’t know where else to go except for LA. So I called a friend up and he told me to come to LA. I told him I didn’t like LA and he’s like, “Well, I’m in Venice.” I didn’t know where that was, but I came out and I was like dude this is it. Like, “I can’t believe this is in LA…this is f*****g awesome!” It’s like the Lower East Side with skaters and surfers and there’s art and its dirty and there’s guns. I said, “Dude, I love it!”

(Danny laughs)

I came here and I was only supposed to stay a couple of weeks. I went surfing and I tore my meniscus and then I didn’t leave. So that’s how I ended up here.IMG_9735-EditDanny: That’s pretty awesome, it’s so true. How did you end up becoming a hat maker?

Nick: It wasn’t a part of the career path. I went to school for environmental science and sustainable development and I always had my finger in fashion. I’d always f**k around on industrial sewing machines when I was in college and working with friends making stuff. That was my medium. I just liked altering clothes. I worked in fashion in New York for advertising or modeling and I’ve always
been more interested in that side of the business, rather than being in front of the camera. I apprenticed under this designer that was my mentor for a couple of years and I really learned the ins and outs of IMG_9782-Edithow to sew, how to make suspenders, how to make belts, how to make bags, put clothing together, how to merchandise. It was like I was getting paid to go to school. I also dropped in on some classes out here at Otis Parsons, but I didn’t really learn all that much. I’m the type of person that learns more hands on. So then one day I met this cowboy on the street and he had this really amazing hat and I
asked him, “Where did you get your hat?” “Well I made it,” he said. And then I just realized that there’s something special about this sort of trade. I was like, “Who does it?” There are 25 hat makers in the US and 300 in the world. He’s like, “No one does this, its a lost art.” So I said “I’m gonna try to do my own thing. How about we collaborate and get this going?” So I garnered the finances and shopped all over the Midwest for hat makers that were sort of going out of business or too old. I acquired a bunch of their equipment and brought it back. And then with some of his knowledge and my knowledge together, we sort of f****d around and made things happen. Then right off the bat, we started getting clients in this underground basement on Abbott Kinney. Then we split apart because he got sick and I was like f**k, do I keep going or do I stop? Then this space opened up on Abbott Kinney and I rolled the dice. No risk, no reward, let’s just do it. And I’m happy I did. It wasn’t expected, it sort of came to find me.IMG_9801-EditDanny: It seems like your timing was really good, because it feels like hats are really making a resurgence right now, wouldn’t you agree?

Nick: Yeah, totally.

Danny: Why do you think that is?

Nick: I’m not 100% sure. There’s been some ups and downs with hats. I knew hats were coming back 5 years ago, but they were low quality, stingy brands. I think if you look at it on the timeline, I’d say the Grammys had a big deal to do with hats coming back. And it was super fortunate that I was one of the designer hat makers that actually had hats on two of the most important people that night – Pharrell and Madonna. I didn’t expect or anticipate the sort of recognition I would get or the effect it would have on hats, but that IMG_9764-Editwas the talk of that whole thing. And I think that’s a big point. Men are more and more becoming this fashionable metropolitan man. I mean, there’s nothing more elegant than a hat, and that to me is the pinnacle of elegance. Like a beautiful, proper hat. I think that men are recognizing that they’re buying $1000 John Lobb shoes, $450 selvedge denim jeans, $300 Pink shirts, but yet they’re wearing a $10 boardwalk hat. It just doesn’t add up. To me, you can’t go cheap with hats. It’s expensive fabric, it’s custom made. You’re getting something uniquely tailored for you and there is something super personal about it.

Danny: What differentiates your hat from a boardwalk hat? Can you explain the process and how you add your personal touch to the hats?

Nick: The difference with what we do is it is really custom made from start to finish. Where a boardwalk hat is machine made in China on an assembly line. Ours have soul. Ours have your personal intentions and ideas put into it. It’s tailor made for you. It’s like getting a custom surfboard. There’s love, time and something intrinsic that you can’t explain…which makes all the difference.IMG_9795-EditDanny: But then there’s some signature touches that you add. I mean, I’ve seen you burn hats.

Nick: Yeah. To me, it’s like I didn’t invent the hat. And I’m not reinventing the hat. I’m just sort of taking my taste and my sauce in the recipe and making it my own. Traditional fedoras and Homburgs and western cowboy hats have been done, and if I were to try to remake those I’d be doing the same thing as everyone else did. What I’m trying to do is put my twist and touch and taste on it. Make it unique, make it different and make it mine. So when I put those aspects of burning or some special oil or some beaded items that I found in Nepal, it’s basically just putting my touch on it.

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Danny: You were most recently featured in the latest Guess campaign with some of your hats. Is it ever hard to be around some of the most beautiful women in the world?

Nick: Well I live with the most beautiful woman in the world. So, you know, I don’t really look at anybody else. I only have eyes for my girl. But, it’s an honor to be able to have these big brands that come to me and let me be in their campaign. It’s an honor to show my work on such a high level. And yes, it’s always amazing to have the company of those girls. They’re sweet. So yeah, it’s always a fun time being on those shoots.

IMG_9756-EditDanny: Let’s talk about your “lady” for a minute. Your girlfriend is surfing royalty…a living legend. Is it hard to surf with her some times?

Nick: You know, I don’t even think she knows it. But yeah, it is for me. I’m super intimidated by her caliber of surfing. I think she surfs better than most guys that I know. Her style is so next level! I mean, I grew up surfing, but I didn’t get full into like she did where she was so immersed and consumed by it. I took it in waves. I got into it and then I stopped. It wasn’t like I was full “surf head” 24/7. But her style is so killer and it’s intimidating sometimes surfing with her. I’d like to see her make a hat.

Danny: You have a great sense of personal style. How would you define your look?

Nick: There’s so many mix-matches and mash-ups in my style. I like to refer to it as Keith Richards meets a samurai, meets Huck Finn, meets a country club member, meets a cowboy. That’s my style!IMG_9822-EditDanny: Amazing! Who are some other noteworthy people you have made hats for and who were you most excited to make a hat for?

Nick: I was most excited to make a hat for my mom. She had been asking me and deserved it more than anybody I know, period. But I’ve put hats on Bob Dylan, Pharrell, Diane Keaton, Billy Gibbons (from ZZ Top) and Bono. I mean, the list goes on.

Danny: Who do you want to make a hat for that you haven’t made a hat for yet?

Nick: I really want to make one for Keith.

Danny: Keith Richards?

Nick: Yeah, he’s a big style influence of mine. Like I mentioned earlier with my mix-mashes of styles. But that guy is just the man, you know. I’d be super stoked for him to wear one of our hats.

Danny: Alright, that’s it. Thanks, Nick!

Nick: Thanks, Danny!

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Baxter Finley Barber & Shop

Founded in 2010, Baxter Finley Barber & Shop is Baxter of California’s flagship barbershop and retail outpost in Los Angeles. Aptly named after the brand’s founder, the shop provides services tailored specifically to men. Designed and built with an old world charm, the shop has restored, Koken “White King” chairs from the early 1900s, reclaimed Douglas Fir flooring, custom oak-and-marble backbars with subway tile to fit the classic scene.

Haircuts at Baxter Finley include hot towel and razor clean up on the side and back of the neck. Straight razor shaves are accompanied with a custom hot towel treatment using Baxter of California’s special Shave Tonic. The shop showcases Baxter of California grooming products and shaving implements for men, along with goods from brands like Marvis and Juniper Ridge.

The shop is the home to the finest Barbers this side of the Mississippi.  All trained in the deep rooted heritage and artistry of Barbering. Taking from the skills of the past and applying it to the new styles of today our Barbers will take care of you and make sure you get what you want. Getting a haircut or shave from Baxter Finley is more then just a cut or shave, it is an experience.

The shop is our testing ground for all of our products. There you will get expert advice on how to use our product to keep you looking good night and day. Our barbers have all the tricks of the trade and will share those secrets with you when sitting in our chairs.

Here at Baxter we are proud of our California legacy. We believe in the California way of life through and through. Whether your a local or touching down for the day, stop on by and make us a part of your California experience. Head on over to the official Baxter Finley website for more details on how to book your appointment. We’re looking forward to meeting you.

 

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Escape from New York – Mikey DeTemple

Mikey DeTemple is a professional surfer and filmmaker.  On the surfboard and off he is a style master. Harking from  the East Coast, rain, sleet, snow or shine you will find him exploring every nook and cranny of the Eastern seaboard.  Ever since he was a grom (surfers term for young fella) he has found ways to escape to the West to enjoy our beautiful unique coastline. Even though he has the East pumping through his veins there is a bit of Cali soul in the man. We consider Mikey a good friend here at Baxter and look forward to sharing many more stories and adventures with him in time to come.  In his words, here is Mikey’s take on his last escape from New York City.

“New York in the winter is a special place, but sometimes you need a break, and come mid January it’s already much needed! Looking at the long range forecast, California looks to be putting on its best impression of New York in September. Clear, dry and perfect temperatures, it’s kind of painting a dreamscape in mind just reading the weather. Being a frequent visitor to the West Coast, there is so much on the week’s checklist. Surf as many of the classic point breaks California has to offer,  have dinners with all my friends from NY who have picked up and moved to LA,  make time to go on as many hikes as possible and spend as much time outside are all being checked off. With only a few days of perfect weather, tacos and hikes left, it’s time to pack up and head back into the winter abyss that is called reality. That’s until I start reading all the buzz of an impending “Blizzard of the century” hitting the night of our redeye home. Looks like our flight’s cancelled. No problem for us, just more time to get out and explore the coast.”

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Mikael featured

Mikael Kennedy – #OfCalifornia

#OfCalifornia is an Instagram series built around the photographic documentation of the California landscape. We have selected some of our favorite photographers to give us their take on California. We will be featuring a new photographer every month.

For the Month of February we will be showcasing the work of Mikael Kennedy. Brooklyn based, Mikael finds any excuse to escape back to California. He has spent a great deal of his youth exploring every part of the State and as an accomplished photographer has captured a very intimate take on our Golden State.

“In November of 2013 I was talking to my friend Jeff Thrope who was bumming around California for the month. I was sitting in NYC staring out my window at the grey lady, dreaming of the open road. If you’ve never ridden highway one, there isn’t much that compares. I agreed to meet him in Big Sur two days later where he would be camping in a friend’s school bus parked on the top of Partington Ridge. We stayed there two nights and then rode the coast for days, Big Sur to Mendocino, a sleeping bag in the trunk and a bag of film in my lap.” – From the book ‘California’ by Mikael Kennedy published by Done To Death projects.

Tag your favorite California images #OfCalifornia.

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WELCOME TO THE BAXTER BLOG

Today we launch “The Baxter Blog” – an exploration of California and the Baxter way of life. Here you will find all the elements and inspirational stories of the Baxter culture. Rooted in our barber heritage, we will provide the true Baxter experience: from product tips and professional advice from our barbers to the amazing stories of our California home and profiles of the inspiring individuals that continue to encapsulate the “Baxter way of life.”

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 In case you’re unfamiliar, our Baxter Finley Barber & Shop is located in West Hollywood at 515 North La Cienega Boulevard. This is our testing and proving ground. It’s here we refine formulas, come up with new ideas for products, discuss the latest in the world news, and build relationships with you our customers – both new and old. From this great house of information we’ll be providing you with up-to-date expert advice from our barbers. Whether it be how to use a particular pomade, how to make your beard smoother or the answer to life’s many questions, our barbers will be able to provide you with something that is bound to inspire your day to day.

Zeros

California is our namesake. It’s our home and inspiration. We are “Of California” and very proud of our 50 year heritage here. This state is rich with culture, endless natural beauty, and great surf – and we plan on giving you a taste of what “75 and sunny” is all about. We will be featuring great locations to visit in our Golden State and all the exciting stories from writers and photographers who call this magical place home.

Scott Toepfer

 The “Baxter Man” is a particular kind of guy. He is well-rounded and creative, but professional and put together. We will be introducing you to a few of those characters and their way of life. They will come from all walks of life, but will represent the importance of depth in your being.

Badger Brush

 Grooming is something we learn from our fathers and they have learned from their fathers. After you have exhausted all the knowledge passed down, let us give you a few tips here and there to elevate your grooming routine. We will be giving regular advice on how to keep yourself in tip-top form and how to use the Baxter full grooming solution to your advantage.

Mike DeTemple - Escape from New York

 We are excited to launch our blog with you today. We look forward to sharing our world and invite you into the “Baxter way of life”. Thanks for reading…and thanks for being part of the Baxter story.

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#yoursink
Santa Monica Montains
Santa Monica Montains
Baxter Finley - Bar Back
Baxter Finley – Back Bar
Icon Trucks - Jonathan Ward
Icon Trucks – Jonathan Ward
The Sailing Collective
The Sailing Collective
Saturdays New York City
Saturdays New York City
Full Sail
Full Sail
Rock off - County Line
Rock off – County Line
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Nick Fouquet
Saturdays Candle – Bell Jar